• Calling All North Carolina Readers

    Do I have any readers in Chapel Hill, North Carolina? If so, could you e-mail me? Or leave me a note in comments to e-mail you? I'm going to be coming out there next week and need some advice on where to stay, what to do, etc.
  • Licensing Parents

    Daniel Radosh, in a larger post on freezing eggs, writes : Parenthood is one of those jobs for which, almost universally, there are no tests and very few people would want them. Right...why is that? We require tests and licensing procedures to drive, to be a doctor, to use a forklift, to sell insurance/ yet raising children we entrust to whomever happens to have unprotected, or poorly protected, intercourse. It's very weird. Now, I'm not suggesting that we should institute some sort of regulatory scheme for parenting, but I would love to hear the non-gut reaction argument as to why we shouldn't. And forget testing, maybe we can give tax breaks or incentives of some sort to any soon-to-be parents who attend classes. Vermont's health care system, which gives expecting mothers a number of free, at-home doctor visits and access to classes, materials, and resources, has had wonderful outcomes for the state's young. Why don't we have similar programs across the country? Why are we so...
  • Libertarian Democrats

    Matt Welch has penned one of those Look West, Young Democrats! articles that pops forth every once in awhile. The thesis is basic: by turning into a quasi-libertarian party, we can peel off libertarians and libertarianish Republicans, thus constructing a durable majority, winning the West, and consigning Big Government, crony capitalism conservatives to the dustbin of history. It's gonna be great. And he's right, it will be. For everyone but the libertarians and libertarianish Republicans. Welch's starting point is that the Republican Party, the party that actually professed to believe in small government and state's rights, has proven a variety of old adages about power being bad and transformed into a bloated, deficit-increasing, government-expanding, liberty-shrinkin' monstrosity. So Democrats should start advocating charter schools, deficit reduction, low taxes, and all the other planks of the Reagan/Republican Revolution. Which is fine, I guess. But Welch may want to ask himself...
  • Interesting

    I'm late to the party on Dowd's bizarre article on how feminists are responsible for her singledom, but I do think this piece on two academics who submitted all the text of Playboy pictorials analysis is an interesting accompaniment: Beggan began in 1998 to assemble a database that contained all the photos and text from the 204 Playboy Playmate pictorials that appeared in the magazine between 1985 and 2001. Much of it was distilled from a cache of Playboys he found gathering dust in a Louisville bookstore. (And, of course, in the interest of scholarship, he just had to rescue them from oblivion.) Beggan and Allison, writing in the latest issue of the Journal of Popular Culture, found a pattern to the way that Playboy's wordsmiths described the women who graced the magazine's centerfold. They were typically strong, career-oriented, aggressive and, in a surprising number of instances, downright "tough." Adjectives suggesting vulnerability, submissiveness or passivity appeared less...
  • The Secret Session

    Brilliant move by Harry Reid. News networks have to keep saying "whether or not the Bush administration knowingly lied us into war," Republicans are left whining about the "closed session", and the very fact that the Senate has retired for secret debate on national intelligence issues lends the issue instant credibility. After Rove tried to eject Libby from the front pages by nominating the most divisive nominee possible, Reid has refocused the media narrative on Iraq and the phantom WMD's. And yes, the debate over whether or not there should be an inquiry into why we launched a war to capture weapons that didn't exist is one I think the Democrats will be just fine on. Any Republicans want to take on the "con" argument? There is, too, a symbolic statement here. Rove and the Republicans decided to deal with bad news the way they always do: change the subject, squeeze off all information that could sustain press coverage, and use their control of the agenda to manufacture enough...
  • Questions That Matter

    Folks are, I feel, not answering the really critical questions on Alito. Who cares what he said in Casey ? Why has no one figured out if his kids are cute? Are they blond? Do they burst into spontaneous, endearing dance? Do they wear funny, kid-like shorts? Are they the sort of tots we couldn't bear to disappoint by rejecting their dad? C'mon people, time to get on the ball.
  • The Specter of Specter

    Looks like Arlen Specter, perhaps predictably, is set to prove all predictions, mine included, of his independence wrong . He's now slobbering over Alito, pretzelling together rationalizations for his vote in Casey , assuring folks that the judge who ruled against the government's power to regulate machine guns was in fact just kidding, arguing that the pro-life movement's top choice is in fact pro- Roe , and generally making it crystal clear he's ready and eager to carry administration water on this one. Gotta love moderate Republicans.
  • Education as a Positional Good

    This idea that education is a positional good (as in, school quality mostly matters as compared to other schools rather than on isolated quality markers) seems obviously right to me. Education, after all, is instrumental these days. The better your performance, the more prestigious and numerous your options. If you want to learn for the sole sake of personal enrichment, you can read a book, entering the competitive and costly atmosphere of structured schooling is unnecessary. At the same time, I think parents get the strategy on this wrong. Taking the argument that education is a positional good, remember that how the student is valued is also positional. Class rank, grades, opportunities for extracurricular leadership -- these all rely on your competition. So unless your kid is brilliant and driven, what you want is to put him into a mediocre school where he's more likely to excel. Now, there's the danger that he'll get the wrong values and aims from his peer group, but parenting and...
  • Fun From The Corner

    Tim Graham needs to read his posts before hitting publish: Matt Lauer began the Today Show this morning this way: "Good morning, judging the judge. The battle lines are drawn over Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Conservatives love him but some Democrats are already lining up to fight his nomination.” It’s the usual media designation (especially popular in the New York Times) that conservatives don’t face liberals, they only face Democrats, ideology uncharacterized. Katie Couric added: "A down and dirty fight is looming over the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Conservatives are ecstatic about this, liberals, meanwhile are very anxious. The key issue, would Alito overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision back in 1973 legalizing abortion.” That’s another favorite media term: “superprecedents” they like are always “landmark” decisions. Gotta love it. Matt Lauer offends Tim Graham by juxtaposing conservatives with Democrats, exactly what the media always does...
  • Food For Thought

    You know, until I actually put it this way , I didn't really comprehend how offensive the Alito nomination really is. If Alito wins confirmation, there will be more Justices from Trenton, New Jersey than there will be women on the Supreme Court. Think about that for awhile.